The “Kern” as ongoing campers call it, is a beautiful place to camp, fish, and raft. There are numerous campgrounds along the upper river and several designated free areas to camp along the river. The lower river also has a few campgrounds as well, but I prefer to talk about the upper section above the town of Kernville, California. As far as campgrounds along the Kern, I like limestone, Fairview, and Hospital flat campgrounds. They have the best shoreline and some shade at these places. When your talking about designated free areas I am disappointed to discuss it because several years ago you could camp anywhere along the river. The park service got tired of cleaning up all the trash left behind along the river. A group and the rangers imposed a law restricting camping to the campgrounds and 8 free small areas along the river. Now people are overly congested, camping on top of each other in these areas and they now can be policed by the Sheriff, Ranger, and Game warden . So much for a peaceful weekend along the Kern. Basically idiots have ruined it for everybody.
Camping reservations for the kern campgrounds can be made at http://www.reserveamerica.com
The Kern River is a river in the U.S. state of California, approximately 165 miles (270 km) long. It drains an area of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Fed by snowmelt near Mount Whitney, the river passes through scenic canyons in the mountains and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It is the only major river in the Sierra Nevada mountain range that drains in a southerly direction.The river was named by John C. Frémont in honor of Edward M. Kern in 1845 who, as the story goes, nearly drowned in the turbulent waters. Kern was the topographer of Fremont’s third expedition through the American West. Before this, the Kern River was known as the “Rio de San Felipe” as named by Spanish missionary explorer Fr. Francisco Garcés when he explored the Bakersfield area on May 1, 1776. On August 2, 1806, Padre Zavidea renamed the river La Porciuncula for the day of the Porciuncula Indulgence. It was locally known as Po-sun-co-la until its renaming by Fremont.
Calkins Flat designated camping area,Upper Kern River.
This is one of my tents I take when camping solo or just two of us. It’s inexpensive and well made. It has lasted me many years so far. Ozark Trail is Walmart’s brand and it provides well made gear at affordable prices.
Limestone Campground, Upper Kern River.
Kern Canyon, the deep canyon of the river northeast of Bakersfield, is a popular location for fishing . Of particular interest to fisherman are the Kern River rainbow trout, the Little Kern golden trout and the California golden trout. The Kern Canyon is popular for camping, hiking, and picnicking. There are developed campgrounds maintained by the US Forest . All of the campgrounds are open in the summer months while only a few remain open year round. There are also some undeveloped areas off Mountain Highway 99 available for camping. I myself am a fishing addict, so I can’t wait to fish most of the time I’m there. Over the years I have caught plenty of fish.
Fall Kern Rainbow Trout
I like to shore fish or wade in the water wearing waders when the river level and flow is low. Baits I use are nightcrawlers, and green powerbait. I also use rooster tail and Rapala lures. I like to fish with the current or in deep holes found along the river. The biggest trout I ever caught on the Kern was a 4.5lb Alper trout that was stocked ,back in 2006 from a hatchery near Mammoth ,California that had a program with the state. I haven’t seen one that big since ,but I know they have big Brown Trout in the upper wild section of the river above the Johnsondale bridge. This area is accessible only by foot and has heavy fishing regulations to follow.
Another Summer Rainbow
If your new to fishing or just want to grab something quick to up there, get this trout fishing set up and some small treble hooks and green powerbait . This will do you fine and it’s not expensive. I always get my gear at Walmart or Big 5 and they have what I need. It also doesn’t cost a fortune to get started. I’ve caught huge fish on a cheap 30 dollar setup and the guy next to me with a 300 dollar rod and reel hasn’t got anything.
Fresh Trout Dinner
Make sure to bring plenty of food, snacks and water. Don’t forget the beer, but as of this year the Kern river district has banned all glass containers making it a glass free zone, so bring cans or you may get a ticket. Here is the official Ruling.
Glass Ban: As of May 16th, 2016, the areas around the Kern River and Lake Isabella are subject to a glass prohibition by the Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest. It bans glass food and beverage containers along the Upper Kern, the Lower Kern, all of Isabella Lake’s shorelines (to surrounding roadways), and for a circumference of 500 feet around the Johnsondale Bridge.
The new glass ban is another way the Kern River Ranger District will continue to improve the recreation experience for visitors to our beautiful Wild and Scenic Kern River and the shorelines of Lake Isabella.
The Forest Order with maps and specific descriptions of areas included in the glass ban can be found at any of the Sequoia National Forest’s offices.
For more information, or if you have questions about the ban, please call Tricia Maki, Kern River Recreation Officer, at 760-376-3781 extension 630. The Forest Order with maps and specific descriptions of areas included in the glass ban can be found here, or at any of the Sequoia National Forest’s offices.
I like to grill meats and fish when I camp. Hotdogs on the fire are great too. I bought this grill I love at Walmart and not only do I grill on it , but I put my skillet on there and cook a variety of things for breakfast and dinner.
Texsport Heavy-Duty Camp Grills
Fairview Campground site 15, Upper Kern River.
RAFTING ON THE KERN
An award-winning outfitter known for exceptional service and running carefully structured, exhilarating rafting trips with a crew of well-trained guides. Their goal is simple: Provide you with a whitewater rafting experience that is so much fun that you will return for another trip with Kern River Outfitters. http://www.kernrafting.com
One of the primary outdoor activities to the Kern river valley is whitewater rafting. Short trips, one and two day are available on the Upper and Lower Kern river. The Upper Kern rafting season is generally from late April through early July and the Lower Kern rafting season is from Memorial Day weekend through early September. Flows change on a year to year basis depending on the California snowpack.
Two day rafting trips
The Lower Kern river offers a 20 mile, two day rafting trip, starting below Lake Isabella dam. Kern rafters enjoy miles and miles of fun class II, III, and IV whitewater.
One day rafting trips
Full day Kern river rafting trips are available on both the Upper and Lower Kern sections of the river. The advantage of a Lower Kern one day trip is that the rafting is uninterrupted, meaning you get on and off the bus just once. The advantage of the Upper Kern full day is that there is plenty of road access, meaning you can pick and choose the most ideal sections of river to raft on.
Short rafting trips
For those tight on time, shorter Kern rafting trips are available. These include a half day and a 2 hour trip.
Check out the Kern, you may fall in love. With so much to do and see, the Kern is a special place to my family for many years and many years to come. Until next time here on campingandfishing.org